Opinion: The struggles of socializing as a college student during a pandemic

Suffolk+University%27s+Nathan+R.+Miller+Hall+Community+Lounge

Samantha Bailey

Suffolk University’s Nathan R. Miller Hall Community Lounge

Coming to college is a daunting experience in itself. Having to follow COVID-19 guidelines and testing procedures starting my freshman year made everything even more intimidating. 

Samantha Bailey / Suffolk University’s Nathan R. Miller Hall Community Lounge

The first things we saw as freshmen when we arrived on campus were many signs instructing social distancing and max capacity rules for how many people could be in a lounge at a time. Right away, it was hard to try and meet new friends. We were restricted to getting to know our suitemate and any students we had met online over the summer. 

The number of students living in each building was also significantly smaller than any other year. This made it so much harder to meet new people since we were confined to our dorm buildings this year. 

It wasn’t until the end of my first semester that I had finally found the friend group that I had spent my whole semester trying to find. Even though we all live in the same building, we had never had the opportunity to meet each other prior because of the restrictions. 

Now, even though we are all friends and live in the same building, it is still difficult for our group to hang out together. Because we are only allowed to have one other person in our room at a time in our building, we can only all gather in a lounge, where we are also required to wear our masks. 

Despite all of these restrictions that we face, we have still found ways to spend time together as a group. When the weather is warm, we always go on walks or find an outdoor space to do our homework or have a picnic. 

I believe Suffolk University has done as much as it can to help students socialize on campus while also respecting all guidelines. The university has allowed students to attend in-person classes. Even though there is limited seating in every dining hall, students are allowed to sit with friends, socially distant. 

Online classes and club meetings also limit how we can interact with other students. To accommodate, some clubs on campus have hosted in-person events for students to attend with the approval of Student Life and Involvement (SLI) and in accordance with CDC guidelines. 

Overall, my experience in a dorm has been all that hoped for and more. The Residential Assistants (RA’s) in my building have hosted many events over Zoom to create a community among their floors. Each of the RA’s in my building have all been helpful to me whenever I’ve had an issue. 

While trying to make this academic year feel as normal as possible, I have felt incredibly safe living on campus in Downtown Boston. Suffolk has gone over the top assuring everyone is safe on campus by enforcing strict testing procedures and mandatory rules. The amount of cases on campus has stayed lower than many other universities around us and our community has not faced any sort of outbreak. 

Personally, I don’t think I could have asked for a better freshman year experience given the circumstances. While socializing may be difficult at times, I still feel as if I am a part of a community and welcomed no matter where I go on campus.